“Break Barriers, Open Doors: for an inclusive society for all”, 3rd December International day of persons with disabilities. December! A month which has got many surprises in it. A month filled with love stories and fairy tales which brings a lot of excitement and gifts for people all around the world, brings 3rd December as a gift for persons with disabilities. A day of international solidarity, a day of brotherhood, harmony and unity among PWDs. 3rd December is welcomed by persons with disabilities all over the world with the celebrations of International day for Persons with disabilities. World is going too fast, all over the world where Persons with disabilities enjoy full liberty, share happiness, experience freedom and get full exposure of the society celebrate this day with a lot of joy and happiness along with their families, friends and countrymen. Unfortunately we, the South Asian Countries including Pakistan are still demanding our basic rights on this day. We are still in a phase where our countrymen need to be sensitized; we are still facing those same barriers and obstacles which we were facing 20 years ago. Our Governments still need to be addressed about the daily issues faced by PWDs. Our society’s attitude is still a hindrance in development and growth of this part of the community.
Keeping this in view, SAAYA Association of PWDs keeps on organizing seminars, social gatherings, walks, and awareness campaigns on daily basis to aware and sensitizes the society and government officials. To create ways for the betterment and development of Pakistan and PWDs, SAAYA Association Organized a seminar on 3rd December, International day of persons with disabilities in COMSATS Institute of Information Technology, Islamabad under the umbrella of CBID Network with the topic of Inclusion in every part of society including education for PWDs. The international Slogan given by UN, “Break barriers, open doors: for an inclusive society for all” was core of the event.
The seminar comprised speakers from different parts of the society including teachers from COMSATS, some students with disabilities of the same institute sharing their life experiences, our most honorable Mr. Imran Nazir Country Head (LCDDP-Pakistan), Ms. Saima Aslam (Director Project Management, SAAYA Association) and Mr. Asim Zafar (Secretariat Coordinator CBID Network). The main focus of all the speakers remained on equal participation and opportunity utilization by the PWDs in development of the country by enabling them access to all the basic rights that a common man takes for granted.
The discussion revolved around the barriers faced by PWDs and solutions to overcome those barriers. Four types of barriers that PWDs encounter with in their daily routine are,
Actions speak louder than words, we practically experienced this quotation when a group of students in COMSATS picked our wheelchairs up and they took us to the 4th floor, “Physical Barrier”. Major portion of the university was not disabled friendly, “Environmental Barrier”. The sympathetic attitude of people when they were actually helping us, although they were clear and good in their intentions, “Attitudinal Barrier”. This was the fourth seminar regarding disability in a span of three years but still only one building out of five was made accessible through elevators. This shows the reluctance to accept PWDs as a society member by the authorities of the university, “Social Barrier”.